Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for category: Gastroenterology Conditions

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
November 23, 2022
Tags: Appetite Loss  

You need to eat nutritious foods to stay healthy. Nutrients, vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates fuel your body, providing you with the energy you need to live. If you’ve ever experienced loss of appetite, you already know how it can affect your body.

Some of the signs and symptoms of appetite loss include:

  • Losing interest in foods
  • Not enjoying your favorite foods
  • Frequently skipping meals
  • Weight fluctuations and weight loss

When you lose your appetite, you may also experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy levels
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Changes to your hair, skin, or nails

There are many reasons why you might experience a loss of appetite. Some of these reasons include:

  • Underlying medical conditions including Crohn’s disease, cancer, and diabetes
  • Side effects of medications you are taking, including antibiotics, amphetamines, chemotherapy, fluoxetine, and opioids
  • Emotional and mental health difficulties including anxiety, an eating disorder, depression, and stress
  • Physical changes your body is experiencing including recovery from a surgical procedure

Your gastroenterologist will begin treatment for appetite loss by ordering laboratory testing and imaging studies to determine the cause of your appetite loss. Depending on the cause of your appetite loss, your gastroenterologist may recommend:

  • Dietary modifications including eating small meals throughout the day
  • Referral to a dietician for development of an eating plan
  • Medications to stimulate your appetite, including corticosteroids and others
  • Medication adjustment if your appetite loss is caused by a medication you are taking
  • IV nutrient, vitamin, and mineral solutions to compensate for decreased food intake
  • Oral vitamin, nutrient, and mineral supplementation
  • Referral to a mental health specialist for help with an eating disorder

You can do a lot at home to help minimize appetite loss. Remember to:

  • Eat regular, small meals, even if you are not hungry
  • Consume liquid meals to help maintain nutrient levels
  • Eat bland foods to prevent irritation of your stomach

Appetite loss can dramatically affect the health of your body and your mind. Your gastroenterologist can help with appetite loss. To learn more about the causes and treatment of appetite loss, talk with your gastroenterologist today.

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
October 03, 2022
Tags: Crohn’s Disease  

Crohn’s disease can dramatically impact your life. When you are in fear of eating the wrong foods or having a painful attack, it can make you want to stay home and avoid enjoying your life. Crohn’s disease can make you feel powerless, depressed, and isolated. Your gastroenterologist can help you manage Crohn’s disease, so you can live a full, enjoyable life again.

There are several factors that can contribute to developing Crohn’s disease, although the exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not known. An overactive immune system is believed to be a major factor. Your immune system attacks normal cells in your digestive tract, causing painful symptoms. Heredity may also be a factor.

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can be debilitating. They include:

  • Feeling severe fatigue
  • Having a fever
  • Experiencing reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Having frequent abdominal cramping and diarrhea
  • Noticing blood in your stool

There are additional signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease which can affect other parts of your body. These include:

  • Mouth sores
  • Inflammation in your eyes and skin
  • Joint inflammation and pain

Your gastroenterologist is an expert at the diagnosis and treatment of Crohn’s disease. Testing is necessary to provide a diagnosis, so your gastroenterologist may recommend:

  • Blood tests to detect anemia
  • Fecal blood tests to detect blood in your stool
  • Imaging studies including a colonoscopy, MRI, or CT scan

When you have a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, your gastroenterologist can treat and help you manage Crohn’s with:

  • Corticosteroid medications to reduce inflammation
  • Immune system suppressing medications to reduce the destruction of healthy cells
  • Antibiotic medications to eliminate infection
  • Nutritional supplementation of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to help prevent anemia

For severe cases of Crohn’s disease, your gastroenterologist may recommend surgery to remove damaged sections of your digestive tract. Your gastroenterologist can discuss this option with you and help you determine the best course of treatment.

If you are struggling with Crohn’s disease, you need help. Your gastroenterologist has the expertise and treatment you need. To find out more about Crohn’s disease signs, symptoms, and treatment, talk with your gastroenterologist today.

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
August 26, 2022
Tags: Heartburn  

Heartburn is a common problem, especially if you love spicy or acidic foods. It is estimated over 60 million people in this country suffer from heartburn at least once a month, and 15 million Americans feel heartburn daily, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.

Heartburn feels like a burning pain in your throat and chest, but it has nothing to do with your heart. Heartburn is caused by excess stomach acid, produced when you eat spicy or acid foods. Occasional heartburn can be relieved with over-the-counter antacids.

In addition to taking antacids, there are a few tips you can try for occasional heartburn. Remember to:

  • Avoid eating before lying down
  • Limit spicy or acidic foods in your diet
  • Avoid eating a large meal before bed
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently

If you suffer from chronic heartburn, you could have acid reflux or a more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

Acid reflux is caused by the sphincter muscle between your esophagus and stomach not closing properly or completely. This sphincter muscle is responsible for preventing stomach acid from backing up into your throat. When the sphincter muscle stays open, stomach acid can back up into your throat, causing heartburn.

If acid reflux goes untreated, it can develop into gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD. This condition can cause damage to your esophagus, and even esophageal cancer.

You should visit your gastroenterologist if you suffer from heartburn more than twice in a week. You should also visit your gastroenterologist if you experience:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weight loss from lack of appetite
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Throat problems or bad breath
  • Wheezing or dry coughing
  • Tooth enamel erosion

Your gastroenterologist is an expert at treating heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you experience regular episodes of heartburn, it’s time to take action and schedule an appointment with your GI doctor. Don’t wait, because chronic heartburn can be serious, so call your GI doctor today.

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
July 15, 2022
Tags: Hemorrhoids  

Find out what you can do to treat your hemorrhoids.

Seeing bright red blood when you wipe may have you panicking. However, before you rush to the hospital, you should know that chances are good that these little drops of blood are simply coming from hemorrhoids. While not dangerous, it’s important to spot the signs of hemorrhoids and know when to turn to a gastroenterologist for treatment.

Signs of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are swollen or bulging veins of the anus. Symptoms of hemorrhoids are limited to the anal region and can result in pain, swelling, bleeding or itching. It’s also the common cause of rectal bleeding. Some hemorrhoids are internal and may cause aching or throbbing pain, particularly after a bowel movement, while others are external and may be large enough to prolapse.

Conservative Hemorrhoid Treatment Options

In most cases, hemorrhoids will go away on their own, and you won’t even need to come in for a visit. Many of the options for treating your hemorrhoids can be found in the comfort of your own home. A sitz bath can ease pain and discomfort without medication, and you can do this a couple of times a day, as needed.

Of course, if the pain is getting to you, there are over-the-counter creams that can at least temporarily take the pain and itching away until the problem resolves itself. We know it won’t cure hemorrhoids, but managing your symptoms is important.

What you wear is also essential. Wearing fabrics that aren’t breathable can exacerbate your condition. Opt for loose-fitted underwear with a breathable soft material that won’t rub or cause further irritation (yes, that means retiring those tight yoga pants, for now).

If your hemorrhoids are the result of constipation, then fiber is something you need to start incorporating into your diet. Everyone needs fiber, but if you don’t get enough, this can lead to a lot of GI problems, not to mention, it can lead to hemorrhoids. Up your fiber intake by incorporating more whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables into your diet.

When to See a Gastroenterologist About Your Hemorrhoids

There comes a time when you have to throw in the towel and admit that it’s time to visit a gastroenterologist. While most cases of hemorrhoids won’t need professional care, if you have been dealing with pain for more than one week, if the rectal pain you are experiencing is severe or if symptoms are getting worse, it’s time to visit a GI specialist.

A gastroenterologist can provide a simple non-surgical rubber band system to cut off blood from the hemorrhoid and kill it. No recovery process is involved and can be performed right in your GI doctor's office. It’s certainly a relief to have a non-surgical option if you deal with persistent or severe hemorrhoids.

You should turn to a gastroenterologist immediately if you notice blood when you wipe or any other signs of hemorrhoids or dealing with intense rectal pain. After all, many conditions such as fissures and anal tears share symptoms with hemorrhoids, and a GI doctor can determine what problem you’re dealing with and how to treat it best.

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
July 07, 2022

Wondering if you could have GERD?

Are you living with acid reflux? If you deal with this problem rather frequently, you could have a chronic condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s more common than you know, and you could have it. Here’s what you should know about GERD,

What is GERD?

Every time you swallow food, your stomach produces acid to aid digestion. In a healthy gastrointestinal system, a valve in the esophagus opens to allow food and acid to pass from the esophagus to your gut. In those with GERD, the valve that allows food to pass through it may not close fully or open far too often, which can cause these acids to travel back up into the esophagus. If this happens regularly, the lining of the esophagus can become irritated and even damaged.

What Are the Symptoms?

While everyone will probably experience heartburn at some point, you will likely deal with chronic or persistent heartburn if you have GERD. Everybody is different when it comes to their symptoms. Besides heartburn and acid reflux, which are the two main symptoms of GERD, other symptoms include,

  • Sore throat
  • Problems swallowing
  • Belching
  • Gum inflammation
  • Throat irritation
  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic bad breath
  • A bitter taste in the mouth

When Should I See a Gastroenterologist?

It isn’t always easy to know when to visit a gastroenterologist for an evaluation. Of course, if you’ve been dealing with heartburn that occurs twice or more during the week, if your heartburn is only getting worse, if you have trouble swallowing or if heartburn wakes you up at night, then it’s essential that you get your symptoms checked out.

How is GERD Treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce and even eliminate your symptoms while also helping give the esophagus a chance to heal itself. There will be specific lifestyle changes you will need to make to improve your symptoms, such as,

  • Avoiding or limiting spicy, fatty, fried and acidic foods
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol
  • Losing weight if obesity or being overweight is a factor
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Not eating about two to three hours before bed
  • Not lying down immediately after eating
  • Avoiding shirts or belts that are too tight or put too much pressure around the middle

Certain medications will also be prescribed to help you manage your symptoms better and to help repair the damage done to the esophagus. Surgery may be recommended if you’ve tried all other non-surgical options, but nothing has managed your GERD.

Don’t ignore your acid reflux, especially if you’re dealing with it twice a week. If so, you owe it to yourself to schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist to find out if you could be dealing with GERD.

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
June 24, 2022

Is your body telling you that you could have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Are you just experiencing symptoms of an upset stomach, or is there something more going on? It can sometimes be hard to tell, and some people find it embarrassing to talk about, but if you want to find out if your symptoms could be due to IBS, it’s time you turn to a gastroenterologist for care.

What is IBS?

While there is so much about IBS that is still unknown, there are several theories about what causes these symptoms. People with IBS may,

  • Have more sensitive colons
  • Have a different immune system response
  • Experience hormonal fluctuations or changes that trigger IBS
  • Produce serotonin that affects digestive tract nerves, causing diarrhea or constipation

While we may not know what causes IBS, we know that it is a true medical condition.

What are the symptoms associated with IBS?

To diagnose someone with IBS, an individual must experience ongoing symptoms for at least six months. One of the most common symptoms of IBS is abdominal pain. Of course, to be able to diagnose your symptoms as IBS, the abdominal pain has to have at least two out of these three factors:

  • Passing stool relieves symptoms
  • Your symptoms affect the frequency of passing stool
  • Your symptoms affect the appearance of stool

There are quite a few things that can cause IBS to flare up. Common foods that cause flare-ups include high-fiber foods, chocolate, alcohol, fructose and caffeine.

How does a gastroenterologist treat IBS?

There are several different kinds of medications that we might recommend, including antispasmodic, antidiarrheal and even antidepressants.

We will also discuss the many lifestyle changes you should adopt to reduce flare-ups. Common lifestyle changes include,

  • Maintaining regular exercise to improve the function of the bowels
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding trigger foods
  • Reducing or limiting alcohol consumption
  • Finding ways to manage stress (e.g., mindfulness; yoga; meditation)

If you are dealing with persistent abdominal pain and bowel changes, it’s important that you find out what’s going on to get the answers and treatments you need to improve your digestive health.

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
June 09, 2022
Tags: Acid Reflux  

Learn more about acid reflux, its signs and triggers, and when to see a doctor.

Acid reflux happens to everyone, but what should you do if this becomes a common occurrence? You may be wondering what in your diet is triggering acid reflux, and you may want to sit down with a gastroenterologist who can help you figure out why you’re experiencing frequent bouts of acid reflux. It’s important that you don’t just ignore this problem.

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach travels back up through the esophagus. While the esophageal sphincter is supposed to prevent food from traveling backward if the sphincter doesn’t function properly, acid reflux often occurs. As a result, acid reflux often causes heartburn and burning in your chest and throat. While acid reflux and heartburn are often used interchangeably, acid reflux and heartburn are different.

What triggers acid reflux?

The most common acid reflux triggers include,

  • Eating a heavy meal, especially right before bed
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Spicy, fatty, and acidic foods
  • Certain medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers

Why acid reflux is a cause for concern?

While acid reflux on its own isn’t usually anything concerning, if you are experiencing acid reflux at least two or more times a week, it’s important that you seek care from a qualified gastroenterologist. Frequent or recurring acid reflux can signify gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If left untreated or improperly treated, this chronic condition can lead to severe complications, including esophageal cancer and swallowing disorders.

Over-the-counter antacids aren’t enough; you’ll need to turn to a gastroenterologist who can prescribe the proper medication or procedure to correct weak or damaged sphincter muscles.

How is acid reflux managed?

Lifestyle changes such as avoiding trigger foods and eating smaller meals can undoubtedly go a long way to improving symptoms. Patients who are overweight or obese will also find that symptoms improve by losing some weight. Your gastroenterologist may recommend a lower-acid diet while also prescribing an acid blocker. Surgery to repair the sphincter muscle may be advised in more severe cases.

Is acid reflux impacting your diet and affecting your quality of life? If you love eating out or cooking, you may find that acid reflux is cramping your style. This is a sign that you could benefit from turning to a gastroenterologist.

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
May 10, 2022
Tags: Abdominal Pain  

Wondering why you're dealing with abdominal pain?

Everyone deals with a stomachache from time to time. Typically, it will go away on its own, and it’s nothing to worry about; however, certain symptoms may warrant having a gastroenterologist take a closer look. Here’s what you should know about abdominal pain.

What causes abdominal pain?

There is a laundry list of conditions, infections, and diseases that can cause sharp, aching, stabbing, or cramping pain in the abdomen. Some causes are minor and will go away on their own, while others will require urgent medical attention. Common causes include,

  • Food poisoning
  • Food allergies (different than a food intolerance)
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Gastroenteritis (referred to as a “stomach bug”)
  • Indigestion

For women, abdominal pain might not have anything to do with the digestive tract and may be due to menstruation, ovarian polyps or cysts, or other reproductive issues.

If your abdominal pain is minor and goes away in a couple of hours, it’s probably not something to worry about; however, severe abdominal pain is nothing to ignore. Severe abdominal pain, as well as worsening or persistent abdominal pain could be due to,

  • Irritable bowel diseases (e.g., Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis)
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gallstones or kidney stones
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hernia
  • Appendicitis

When should I see a gastroenterologist?

It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist if you are experiencing,

  • Constant abdominal pain that lasts days
  • Pain that keeps coming back
  • Other symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation that also doesn’t go away after a few days
  • Changes in bowel movements or urinary/bladder function
  • Unexpected and sudden weight loss

If you are dealing with severe abdominal pain or abdominal pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing, pain in the chest, or bloody stools, you must seek immediate medical attention.

What is your gut trying to tell you? If you are dealing with persistent abdominal pain or stomach pains that concern you, then these are reasons to turn to a gastroenterologist.

By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
March 30, 2022
Gallbladder AttackYour gallbladder is a small organ on the upper right side of your abdomen that’s responsible for storing and releasing bile to aid in digestion. As with any organ or system in the body, problems can occur. When bile and minerals develop into deposits or gallstones in the gallbladder, this can lead to very severe and sudden pain. Recognizing the signs of a gallbladder attack can mean getting the quicker care you need from a gastroenterologist.

What is a gallbladder attack?

A gallbladder attack is often what happens when there is a gallstone blockage in the duct of the gallbladder. Symptoms can last where from a few minutes to a few hours, but it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you are dealing with severe abdominal pain. The attack may go away on its own without any complications, but it’s still important that you schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist to make sure that your symptoms are due to a gallbladder attack and to rule out other potential health problems.

What are the signs and symptoms of a gallbladder attack?

Wondering if you could be dealing with a gallbladder attack? You could be if you are experiencing:
  • A dull, sharp, or cramping pain in the upper right side or center of the abdomen
  • Pain that radiates to the back or shoulder blades
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (also known as jaundice)
Are there risk factors for gallstones?

As with most health problems, certain risk factors could increase your chances of developing gallstones. You may be more likely to experience gallstones during your lifetime if:
  • You have a family history of gallstones or gallbladder problems
  • You are obese or overweight
  • You have a low-fiber, high-cholesterol diet
  • You take certain medications such as birth control or hormone replacement therapy
  • You have diabetes
  • You are pregnant
  • You are over 40 years old
  • You have been diagnosed with liver disease
How is a gallbladder attack treated?

If the gallstone is passed on its own without problems then no treatment is necessary; however, sometimes medications or shockwaves are used to break up the gallstones. If you are dealing with recurring gallbladder pain, your gastroenterologist may recommend having your gallbladder removed.

If you are dealing with severe or sudden abdominal pain it’s important to seek immediate medical attention, as a gallbladder attack isn’t the only thing that can lead to sudden stomach pain. If you find yourself dealing with frequent gallbladder issues you may wish to speak with a gastroenterologist about whether to have the organ removed.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
February 02, 2022
Tags: Diarrhea  
DiarrheaDiarrhea might not be something you want to talk about; however, it happens to everyone. Whether it’s a stomach bug, something you ate, or a more serious and underlying digestive issue, it’s important to recognize when you should turn to a gastroenterologist for treatment.

Causes of Diarrhea

The most common cause of diarrhea is a viral infection that impacts the stomach. Some people call it “stomach flu” even though it’s not caused by influenza. Other causes of diarrhea include,
  • Food allergies
  • Alcohol use
  • Intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease
  • Bacterial infections
  • Diabetes
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Medications
  • Running (known as “runner’s diarrhea”)
Causes for Recurring Diarrhea

If you are dealing with loose stools for more than four weeks, then you are dealing with chronic diarrhea. Often, this is caused by an intestinal disorder such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you are dealing with chronic diarrhea you should see a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on.

When to See a Doctor

Since diarrhea can also lead to dehydration it’s important that you seek medical attention if you are also experiencing symptoms of dehydration. You should also call your gastroenterologist right away if you experience,
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Black stools
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than two days
  • A high fever (over 102 F) that last more than one day
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
Treating Diarrhea

A gastroenterologist will need to figure out what’s causing your diarrhea before providing you with treatment options. Mild diarrhea may be treated with over-the-counter options and making sure the patient stays hydrated. A gastroenterologist may need to perform stool sample testing or a colonoscopy to detect certain conditions such as intestinal disorders. Once a diagnosis has been made, your GI doctor can provide you with the proper lifestyle changes along with medications and other options.

While diarrhea is often not a cause for concern if you do find yourself feeling concerned it’s always best to play it safe and call your gastroenterologist to find out whether you could benefit from a proper medical evaluation.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
January 26, 2022
Tags: Colon Polyps  
Colon and Rectal PolypsHas a gastroenterologist just found colon polyps during your routine colonoscopy? If so, you may be wondering what these masses are, why they occur, and if this could put you at an increased risk for colorectal cancer. We have the answers you are looking for.

What are colon polyps?

A polyp is typically a benign growth that develops in the lining of the rectum or colon. They can vary in size and are often found in the colon. Polyps are very common in adults, particularly older adults. In fact, an average 60-year-old who doesn’t have any risk factors still has a 25 percent chance of developing polyps. While some polyps can be cancerous, most are harmless.

What can increase my risk for colon polyps?

Older age is the most common risk factor for polyps. If there is a history of colon polyps or colon cancer in your family then you may also be more likely to develop polyps. Other risk factors include,
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking or using tobacco products
  • Having inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis)
Do polyps cause symptoms?

Most polyps do not cause any symptoms; however, if the polyp is large enough it could cause blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. Sometimes a sigmoidoscopy, which allows our GI doctor to look at the lower section of the colon, can detect the presence of a polyp. In this case, our doctor will then recommend a colonoscopy to have the polyp removed. While there are other screening tools available for detecting polyps, the most accurate tool is a colonoscopy.

How is a polyp removed?

If we find polyps during your colonoscopy we can easily remove them at the same time as your procedure. There are several ways in which your doctor can remove a polyp. The most common method is a wire loop biopsy or through a polyp resection (burning the polyp with an electrical current). Since the lining of the bowels is not sensitive, these methods will not cause discomfort. Sometimes a laboratory will examine the removed polyp to look for cancerous cells.

If you need to schedule a routine colonoscopy, or you have a family history of colon polyps and you’re concerned, call your gastroenterologist today to learn more about the preventive steps you can start taking today to protect your digestive health.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
January 12, 2022
Tags: Hiatal Hernia  
Hiatal HerniaDo you deal with constant acid reflux? Is heartburn commonplace? Do you feel full quickly after eating? If so, these could all be signs of a condition known as a hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia happens when part of the stomach pushes through the opening in the diaphragm (the hiatus), which connects to the stomach. While some people may never even know that they have a hiatal hernia, sometimes it can cause digestive issues for others. That’s when you should turn to a gastroenterologist for answers.

What causes a hiatal hernia?

Any kind of intense or increased pressure in this area of the abdomen can lead to a hiatal hernia. Pressure in this area of the digestive tract can occur as a result of,
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Heavy lifting or intense physical exertion
  • Straining
What are the signs and symptoms of a hiatal hernia?

You could have a hiatal hernia and not even know it. Most people don’t even realize that they have one; however, others may deal with certain digestive issues such as,
  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Stomach discomfort
Sometimes symptoms of a hiatal hernia can be confused with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Your gastroenterologist will be able to determine which problem is causing your symptoms and provide you with the appropriate treatment options.

Does a hiatal hernia require treatment?

If your hiatal hernia isn’t causing you any issues then you may never need to have it treated; however, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above you’ll want to see your gastroenterologist for an evaluation. Simple lifestyle changes may be all you need to get your symptoms under control. These changes include,
  • Maintaining a healthy weight (or losing weight if overweight or obese)
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Avoiding belts or tight pants that put pressure around the middle
  • Avoiding acidic, spicy, fatty, greasy, and fried foods
  • Avoiding carbonated beverages as well as caffeine and alcohol
  • Not eating 3-4 hours before bedtime
  • Quitting smoking
  • Elevating your head while you sleep
  • Not lying down immediately after eating
Taking an over-the-counter antacid can also help manage mild or occasional heartburn symptoms but should not be used regularly for more than two weeks. If you find that your symptoms persist for several weeks, it’s time to see your gastroenterologist.

A gastroenterologist is the ideal medical specialist to turn to when heartburn, regurgitation, acid reflux, and other digestive issues plague you. If a hiatal hernia is a culprit, we can help you find effective solutions to manage your symptoms.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
December 23, 2021
Tags: Lactose Intolerant  
Lactose IntolerantIs your morning latte suddenly making your stomach do flips? Do you experience gastrointestinal upset whenever you enjoy a cheesy slice of pizza? Any gastroenterologist knows that this can be disheartening; fortunately, they can help provide the relief you need so that you can go back to enjoying the foods and drinks you love. But first, it’s important to know whether you should come in for an evaluation.

Do I have lactose intolerance?

Since many things can cause an upset stomach and GI distress, it can be difficult to know whether or not it’s dairy that’s truly the culprit. Of course, if you experience any of these symptoms about 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming dairy products, then it’s time to speak with one of our doctors to find out if it could be lactose intolerance. Here are some of the symptoms you might experience after ingesting dairy products: 
  • Belly and stomach cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?

If you suspect that you might be lactose intolerant, it’s a good idea to start tracking everything from whether you consumed milk or other dairy products beforehand and what symptoms you are experiencing to what medications or vitamins you are currently taking.

Our gastroenterologists can determine whether or not you have lactose intolerance through these simple tests:

Lactose tolerance test: This is the most commonly used diagnostic test, which requires the patient to consume a liquid containing a high concentration of lactose. Once consumed, we will perform blood tests to see how glucose within the body reacts to lactose. If glucose levels stay the same rather than rising then your body isn’t able to digest lactose properly.

Hydrogen breath test: Another test in which you have to consume a lactose-filled drink, the hydrogen breath test uses your breath rather than your blood to check hydrogen levels. Bodies that don’t digest lactose properly will affect the colon, which in turn will produce hydrogen and other gases that go through the gastrointestinal system and out through your breath. By measuring the amount of hydrogen on your breath we can also determine whether you might be lactose intolerant.

Stool acidity test: This is most commonly used in infants and young children who may be lactose intolerant. If lactose isn’t digested properly it will create lactic acid within the stool, which can then be tested and detected.

How is lactose intolerance treated?

Avoiding lactose is often the simplest way to prevent symptom flare-ups. These days, there are a ton of lactose-free and dairy-free milk, cheeses, and ice creams, so you shouldn’t have to necessarily cut foods you love from your diet; however, there are over-the-counter supplements that you can take beforehand that can help you better digest dairy if you do decide to eat out or treat yourself to some ice cream.

If you are dealing with digestive issues that you think could be caused by dairy, then it’s a good idea to turn to a gastroenterologist who can perform the appropriate diagnostic testing to determine what’s causing your issues.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
December 08, 2021
Tags: Fecal Incontinence  
IncontinenceAre you having trouble making it to the bathroom in time? Do you notice issues such as leakage, particularly when passing gas? If so, these are signs of fecal or bowel incontinence. While this is an issue that may occur with older age, there are a variety of reasons why someone may deal with this problem. Here’s what you should know about incontinence and how a gastroenterologist will treat it.

What is fecal incontinence?

Whenever there is trouble controlling the bowels this is often known as fecal or anal incontinence. Fecal incontinence can appear as stool leakage when passing gas or during physical activity. You may feel as if you can’t control your bowel movement or you may feel like you’re not going to make it to the bathroom in time. You may even see stool in your underwear. In more severe instances, a person may experience a total loss of bowel control.

Why does fecal incontinence occur?

There are several reasons why someone might deal with this problem. Some of the most common reasons include:
  • Damage to the muscles of the anus (common after childbirth)
  • Previous anal surgeries
  • Nervous system injury or disorder
  • Severe constipation (more common in the elderly)
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Rectal prolapse
Often, there is more than one cause for bowel incontinence. A gastroenterologist will be able to help you determine what is causing this issue.

How is fecal incontinence treated?

A lot will depend on the underlying cause. For example, finding ways to better manage your inflammatory bowel disease can greatly improve bowel incontinence. There are certain exercises and therapies that your doctor may recommend such as Kegel exercises or biofeedback if you are dealing with damaged or weakened anal muscles. Patients whose bowel incontinence is due to diarrhea or constipation may be given certain medications such as anti-diarrheal medications or laxatives to improve their bowels. For certain structural issues such as rectal prolapse, your gastroenterologist may recommend surgery to repair the damage.

Since bowel incontinence is a sign of an underlying health problem, it’s important that you turn to a gastroenterologist as soon as possible to find out what’s causing your incontinence, as well as the best way to treat it.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
December 02, 2021
Tags: Perianal Abscess  
Perianal AbscessNoticing a painful lump or bump near the anus? We know this might be a rather embarrassing topic, and one you may wish to simply ignore; however, naturally, you may be worried or freaked out about this lump. This lump could be a perianal abscess, which causes a large, painful boil-like bump in this exact region. This bump is the result of a bacterial infection that often affects one or more glands around the anus. Fortunately, a gastroenterologist can easily diagnose and help you treat your perianal abscess.

What causes a perianal abscess?

Just like bacteria and debris that gets trapped under the skin results in a pimple, trapped bacteria in the glands around the anal canal can continue to build up until it develops a boil-like bump near the rectum. This is most common in male infants under one year old. A perianal abscess is not to be confused with a perirectal abscess, which is a deep pelvic infection that can be the result of inflammatory bowel disease.

How is a perianal abscess diagnosed?

It’s fairly easy for a gastroenterologist to diagnose a perianal abscess. All that’s needed is a simple physical examination of the area. Since the infection can spread, it’s important to seek treatment from a medical expert to prevent this from happening.
 
How is a perianal abscess treated?

In some cases, the abscess may be treated with simple home care such as Sitz baths and warm soaks a couple of times a day to help the abscess naturally drain on its own. If this happens further treatment may not be necessary; however, if the infection has spread, your gastroenterologist may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. If the abscess doesn’t drain on its own, your doctor can safely drain the abscess. Do not pop or try to drain the abscess yourself, as this could spread the infection. Since this problem can return, it’s important to keep the area clean to prevent future infections.

If you notice a large, painful lump around the rectum or anus, it’s natural to be concerned. Fortunately, a gastroenterologist is going to be the medical specialist you’ll want to turn to for answers and treatment.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
September 29, 2021
Tags: Gallstones  
GallstonesWhether you have a family history of gallstones or you’ve had them in the past and would like to avoid them in the future, did you know that there are actually some tips for reducing your risk for gallstones? While they aren’t foolproof, they can go a long way to keeping your gallbladder healthy. Here’s are some helpful tips to follow.

Be Smart About How You Lose Weight

Being obese is also a risk factor for gallstones. So, if you are overweight or obese you must eat a healthy diet and incorporate exercise into your routine to help shed weight safely but effectively. We understand that it isn’t always easy to lose weight but talking to a doctor can provide you with effective ways to start.

Of course, while it’s true that losing excess weight can go a long way to keeping you healthy, it’s also equally important that you find ways to safely and gradually lose weight. Anyone who sheds weight rapidly either through a crash diet or surgery is more likely to deal with gallstones. The safest way to lose weight is to aim to lose about 1-2 pounds per week over several months.

Eat a Healthy Diet

We all know the role that diet plays in your health. So it should come as no surprise that the foods you eat could also impact your gallbladder. Following a plant-based diet that is high in fiber and healthy fats and lower in refined carbs and red meat is a great way to reduce your risk for gallstones.

Get Regular Exercise

Exercise, just like what you eat, is also just as important for your overall health. Did you know that simply by getting regular exercise several times a week for at least 150 minutes a week, you can reduce the chances of gallstones? Add this to the list of reasons why you might want to go on a long, brisk walk today or (finally) take that spin class.

If you do find yourself dealing with gallstones, a gastroenterologist is going to be the best specialist to turn to for immediate care and treatment options. If you are experiencing symptoms of gallstones, call your GI doctor today.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
August 25, 2021
Tags: Pancreatitis  
PancreatitisThe pancreas is an organ in the digestive system that lies behind the stomach and is responsible for producing insulin, as well as a host of other digestive enzymes and hormones. The pancreas plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and digestion; however, if the pancreas releases these enzymes prematurely, this can irritate and inflame the pancreas, leading to a condition known as pancreatitis.
 
What are the signs and symptoms of pancreatitis?

Symptoms will vary depending on whether you are dealing with acute or chronic pancreatitis. If you are dealing with acute pancreatitis you are likely to experience,
  • Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to the back
  • Pain that gets worse after eating (especially when consuming a high-fat diet)
  • Tenderness in the abdomen
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Increased or rapid heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
People who experience several acute episodes of pancreatitis can develop enough damage that it becomes as serious as chronic pancreatitis. Those with chronic pancreatitis will also experience pain in the upper abdomen as well as unexpected weight loss or oily stools.
 
What causes pancreatitis?

There are many reasons people may develop pancreatitis. Certain risk factors include:
  • Gallstones
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Abdominal injury
  • Exposure to environmental toxins
  • Undergoing abdominal surgery
  • Family history of pancreatitis
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol (particularly high triglycerides)
  • High calcium levels (hypercalcemia)
How is pancreatitis treated?

How your gastroenterologist decides to treat your pancreatitis will depend on the severity and type of pancreatitis you are dealing with. Mild or acute forms of pancreatitis may be improved through simple dietary changes (a low-fat diet) or antibiotics and pain medications.

For severe or chronic cases of pancreatitis, patients may need to be hospitalized where they will need to undergo fasting until the inflammation goes away. Sometimes surgery is necessary to remove the gallbladder if gallstones are the cause of your inflammation. Surgery can also remove diseased regions of the pancreas.
 
If you are dealing with persistent or severe abdominal pain you must seek immediate medical attention even if you’re not sure if you’re dealing with pancreatitis. If you suspect that your symptoms could be due to pancreatitis, a gastroenterologist will be the best specialist to turn to for a diagnose and treatment plan.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
June 23, 2021
Tags: Chest Pain   Gas  
Is Gas Causing My Chest PainFeeling any kind of pain or discomfort in your chest can certainly be scary; however, if you are simply dealing with gas pains you may notice a fullness or tightness in the chest. You may also notice that this pain radiates to your abdomen. This is another telltale sign that the chest discomfort you’re feeling is due to gas. Other signs that it could simply be gas include,
  • Increased flatulence
  • Indigestion
  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Nausea
Is it gas or is it my heart?
 
We understand how much of a concern this is and if you are in doubt it’s always best to play it safe and see a doctor right away. After all, it isn’t always as easy as you might think to tell these issues apart. Your chest pain may very well be cardiac-related and not due to gas pains if you experience,
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Profuse and sudden sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Jaw pain (this is more common in women)
  • Intense pressure on your chest (some people liken it to “an elephant sitting on their chest”)
  • Pain that radiates from the chest to the neck, back, arms, or shoulders
  • Sudden decrease or increase in heart rate
These are common symptoms of a heart attack and you must call 911 or go to your local ER to get immediate care. This is a serious and potentially fatal condition that requires urgent treatment.
 
Why am I dealing with gas?
 
If you are dealing with this problem rather often you certainly want to know what’s going on so that you can put a stop to it. If you are regularly dealing with painful gas it could be due to,
  • Food intolerance or allergy
  • A very high-fiber diet
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Food poisoning
Of course, frequent gas pains may also be a sign of an underlying digestive disorder such as heartburn, acid reflux, gallbladder problems, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease.
 
If you are dealing with recurring gas pains and other digestive issues it might be best to consult your gastroenterologist to find out what might be triggering your symptoms and if there is an underlying problem that could be to blame. A gastroenterologist can address all of your digestive health concerns.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
June 10, 2021
Primary Biliary CholangitisPrimary biliary cholangitis (PBC) may not be a disease that you’ve heard about, yet this autoimmune disease is more common than you may realize. In fact, about 1 in every 1,000 women over the age of 40 are dealing with this type of progressive liver disease, and while some men do develop PBC this is most often reported in women. Here’s everything you want to know about liver disease, living with PBC, and how to treat it.
 
What is PBC?

While this progressive condition does affect the liver it is actually an autoimmune disorder. This means that the immune system is attacking the bile ducts. When the bile ducts are damaged or destroyed, this leads to inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver.
 
What are the signs and symptoms of PBC?

As with most conditions, symptoms aren’t typically apparent during the earlier stages. As the condition progresses, a woman may start to notice symptoms. This is a slow disease, sometimes taking as long as 20 years for symptoms to appear.
 
Some of the early warning signs are fatigue and itchy skin. Over time, women may also develop,
  • Skin darkening
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Weight loss
  • High cholesterol
  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Swelling of the legs and feet
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Osteoporosis
Since many women with PBC don’t experience symptoms, it’s important that you visit your doctor regularly for checkups and routine bloodwork. A routine liver blood test can detect elevated liver enzymes, which may lead your doctor to perform further testing.
 
How is PBC treated?

While PBC is not curable, your gastroenterologist can provide you treatment that can help slow the progression of the disease. One of the standard treatments is ursodeoxycholic acid, which helps the bile to flow from the liver to the intestines. Other medications are also prescribed to improve liver function.
 
If you are concerned about PBC or if you have questions about this autoimmune disorder your gastroenterologist can provide you with more detailed information, including treatment options and a prognosis.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
May 25, 2021
Tags: Heartburn  
HeartburnIt’s Taco Tuesday and everyone is happy; everyone but you. While you might love tacos you just know the burning pain you’re going to experience the minute you put that spicy food to your lips. You also know that your heartburn will probably keep you up at night. You’re also tired of having to take antacids all the time. If this sounds like you, it’s time to consult your gastroenterologist.
 
Do you deal with heartburn? You might if you experience,
  • A burning or gnawing in your chest and throat that occurs after eating (particularly greasy, acidic, or spicy foods)
  • Discomfort gets worse when lying down, especially after eating
  • An acidic taste in the back of your throat
Symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after eating or drinking. If you deal with heartburn regularly you may also notice a persistent sore throat or hoarseness. If you experience heartburn two or more times a week you should see a gastroenterologist.
 
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing heartburn. Some factors include,
 
  • Taking pain relievers regularly
  • Being pregnant
  • Eating larger meals or eating close to bedtime
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Being overweight
  • High stress
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
 
I have heartburn. What do I do?
 
The occasional bout of heartburn due to Taco Tuesday or that second whiskey on the rocks can often be treated with over-the-counter antacids. Lifestyle changes such as avoiding spicy foods, eating smaller meals, and managing stress can also reduce your chances of heartburn.

If heartburn becomes a regular occurrence it’s important to see a gastroenterologist, as this could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can lead to more serious complications if left untreated. Instead of using antacids, which aren’t meant to be used regularly or for long periods of time, your doctor will prescribe an acid blocker or a proton pump inhibitor (PPI).
 
If you’re dealing with heartburn regularly, antacids alone probably aren’t going to be much help. You should turn to a gastroenterologist to find a better, long-term solution. It’s also important to determine whether or not you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
April 19, 2021
Tags: Hepatitis  
HepatitisIf you have been diagnosed with a form of hepatitis, chances are good that your doctor has referred you to a specialist. A gastroenterologist is a doctor that specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions that impact the intestinal system including the liver. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with hepatitis, here’s what you should know.
 
What are the warning signs of hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the liver. A viral infection is typically to blame for most types of hepatitis; however, autoimmune problems or heavy alcohol use can also lead to hepatitis.
 
The five main types of hepatitis are A, B, C, D, and E.
  • Hepatitis A is acute
  • Hepatitis B, C, and D are often persistent and chronic
  • Hepatitis E is typically acute
How does someone develop hepatitis?

Hepatitis is contracted in several ways including,
  • Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated water or food
  • Hepatitis B is often transmitted through bodily fluids including blood and semen
  • Hepatitis C is transmitted through sexual contact, coming in contact with infected bodily fluids, or through IV drug use
  • Hepatitis D is transmitted through contact with infected blood (typically occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B)
  • Hepatitis E is transmitted through contaminated water
What are the warning signs?

As many as half of people with hepatitis don’t even know that they have it. Some of the signs and symptoms include,
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Dark urine
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Pale-colored stools
  • Fever
How is hepatitis treated?

Again, the type of hepatitis you have will determine how to best treat it. Acute viral forms of hepatitis such as hepatitis A will go away on their own, so treatment options may be geared toward easing your symptoms and making sure that you get enough rest. Those with more chronic forms will need ongoing management and treatment from a gastroenterologist. Your GI doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to prevent or at least slow liver damage for those with chronic hepatitis such as hepatitis B. Some patients may even require surgery.
 
If you have questions or concerns about hepatitis, don’t hesitate to talk with your gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist is going to be an integral part of your treatment and recovery plan.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
March 24, 2021
RectoceleRectocele, better known as posterior vaginal prolapse, results from a weakening of the tissue that lies between the vagina and rectum (the rectovaginal septum). This can lead to a bulge or herniation within the back wall of the vagina. This is a fairly common condition for women, but many women don’t even notice symptoms. Unfortunately, sometimes rectocele can result in bowel issues. From regularly straining during bowel movements to vaginal delivery, there are many reasons why a woman may be dealing with a rectocele. If you think you could be dealing with rectocele, turn to a gastroenterologist to find out.
 
What are the symptoms of rectocele?

Some women with rectocele don’t even know that they have it until their OBGYN discovers it during a routine wellness exam; however, if the bulging tissue is rather large then symptoms may appear. Signs of rectocele include,
  • Trouble with completing full bowel movements
  • Needing to apply pressure to the vagina or the rectovaginal septum to complete a bowel movement
  • Straining during a bowel movement
  • Frequent urges to have a bowel movement throughout the day
  • Rectal pain
  • Constipation
Other symptoms include vaginal fullness, bleeding, and pain with intercourse.
 
Treating Rectocele

If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, then your gastroenterologist may not recommend treatment since your daily routine isn’t being impacted; however, if you are experiencing symptoms, the first course of action will be to improve bowel movements and to make them easier and less uncomfortable. Nonsurgical treatment options are usually enough to resolve any issues associated with a rectocele.
 
To prevent straining and constipation, lifestyle changes may include:
  • Staying hydrated
  • Eating a high-fiber diet
  • Performing pelvic floor exercises
  • Biofeedback to improve pelvic floor muscle function
  • Using stool softeners
If non-surgical options have not provided you with relief and your symptoms are interfering with your life, then your doctor may recommend surgery to restore and strengthen the rectovaginal septum.
 
While your OBGYN may recognize this problem while performing a routine exam, additional testing may be necessary. Along with your OBGYN, a gastroenterologist is also trained to be able to diagnose and treat this problem. Call your gastroenterologist to find out whether you could benefit from rectocele treatment.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
February 19, 2021
Tags: Anal Fissure   Anal Fistula  
What Is an Anal Fistula
The inside of the anus is lined with small glands. These glands can be infected when the mucus they secrete gets blocked. This leads to an abscess. Unfortunately, if the abscess isn’t treated it can often form a fistula. A fistula is a tunnel that connects the skin around the anus with an infected gland inside the rectum. If you are dealing with pain and swelling around the anus, a fistula could be to blame. Since anal pain and swelling can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from benign to more serious, it’s a good idea to see a gastroenterologist for an evaluation.

What are the signs and symptoms of a fistula?

The most common symptoms are pain, swelling, and redness around the anus. Of course, everything from a tear in the tissue to hemorrhoids can also cause similar symptoms, so it’s not always easy to spot the difference. This is why you should always consult a gastroenterologist for a proper diagnosis.

If you have a fistula, you may also notice these symptoms,
  • Pain with bowel movements (and sometimes urination)
  • Bleeding
  • Fever
  • Liquid draining from the anus
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to see your gastroenterologist.

How is an anal fissure diagnosed?

Some anal fissures can be spotted through a simple rectal exam; however, this isn’t always the case. If so, your gastroenterologist may recommend imaging tests such as a CT scan or a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows your doctor to examine the lining of the rectum and colon to spot bleeds, ulcers, and other problems.

How are fistulas treated?

The only way to treat a fistula is with surgery, which is typically performed in your gastroenterologist’s office. Several surgical strategies can be used, depending on whether you have a simple or more complicated fistula. Simple fistulas can be removed through excision, while complicated fistulas may require a tube to drain the fluid for several weeks. This is something that your doctor will talk with you about once you’ve come in for an evaluation.

Whether you are experiencing symptoms of a fistula or you are noticing changes in bowel habits that have you concerned, a gastroenterologist is an ideal doctor to turn to for answers. Call your gastroenterologist today to discuss your symptoms and find out if you should come into the office for care.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
January 28, 2021
Tags: Gallstones  
Everything To Know About GallstonesWhen was the last time you thought about your gallbladder? Probably never, right? Well, this little organ that you haven’t thought much about is responsible for releasing bile to help break down food and aid in digestion. If you aren’t dealing with gut problems then you may not even think twice about your gallbladder; however, if your gastroenterologist has told you that you suffer from gallstones, here’s what you should know.

What are the signs of gallstones?

Some people have gallstones but don’t even know it; however, the most common symptoms associated with gallstones are indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. If you have a gallbladder attack, you may experience pain in the upper right or middle of your abdomen below the rib cage. This pain can last for several hours and may be severe.

What are some risk factors for gallstones?

While we still don’t know the exact cause of gallstones, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of dealing with gallstones at some point during your lifetime. Apart from being a woman, here are some other risk factors,
  • Being over age 40
  • Being obese
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • A poor diet that is high in fat
  • Being diabetic
  • Being pregnant
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of gallstones
Is there a way to prevent gallstones in the future?

While we can’t guarantee that you’ll never have gallstones again, making certain lifestyle changes have proven effective for reducing or getting rid of a gallbladder attack. Talk with your gastroenterologist about ways to improve your lifestyle (e.g. losing excess weight; eating a healthier diet; avoiding alcohol) to lower your risk for gallstones.
 
How are gallstones treated?

If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, then you probably won’t require treatment; however, if you continue to have gallbladder attacks you may want to talk with your gastroenterologist about having your gallbladder removed. Your gallbladder can be removed without it affecting your health or quality of life.

If you would like to avoid surgery your gastroenterologist may recommend a certain medication that can help to break up these stones. This medication can also prevent new gallstones from forming. Sometimes this medication is used along with a soundwave procedure known as lithotripsy, which helps to breakdown gallstones so that they can pass more easily.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gallstones or signs of a dysfunctional gallbladder, you must have a gastroenterologist that you can turn to for immediate care. A gastroenterologist will easily be able to determine what’s causing your digestive issues and provide you with an effective solution.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
December 24, 2020
Tags: Anal Fissure  
What Is an Anal FissureDo you notice spots of bright red blood when you wipe? Do you experience anal itching? If so, these could be signs of an anal fissure. The lining of the anus is delicate and has the ability to tear, especially when straining or dealing with constipation. This is so common that gastroenterologists often see more patients presenting with anal fissures than hemorrhoids.
 
What can cause an anal fissure?
If you’ve ever had an anal fissure before you know just how uncomfortable they can be. By knowing what causes an anal fissure you may also be able to prevent one from happening in the future. A fissure typically results from trauma to the anus caused by,
  • Constipation
  • Passing hard stools or straining during a bowel movement
  • Persistent or recurring diarrhea
  • Childbirth
  • Anal intercourse
  • Crohn’s disease
How do I know that I have an anal fissure?

You may be dealing with an anal fissure if you notice pain with a bowel movement. The pain can be quite sharp and intense, and you may even experience burning or pain for hours after. Other symptoms include anal itching and drops of blood when wiping (typically bright red blood). If you notice black or dark stools, this is a sign of internal bleeding and it’s important to see a gastroenterologist right away.
 
How is an anal fissure treated?

Most fissures will heal on their own with proper care. There are things you can do to help promote healing. These include,
  • Staying hydrated and drinking lots of fluids
  • Getting daily exercise
  • Consuming a high-fiber diet
  • Avoiding straining with a bowel moment
  • Go to the bathroom when you need to (do not hold it in)
  • Relax in a Sitz bath
  • Use baby wipes rather than toilet paper (which may be too dry and rough) after a bowel movement
  • Sometimes, stool softeners and fiber supplements can be helpful
The majority of anal fissures will heal by themselves; however, if you’ve been dealing with this problem for more than eight weeks then it’s time to see a gastroenterologist for treatment. There are specific prescription creams or medications that can be used to help treat the fissure. In rare cases, surgery is needed.
 
If you are experiencing rectal bleeding or pain you must turn to a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on, as these can also be symptoms of other more serious digestive and intestinal issues.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
November 18, 2020
Tags: C. Diff   C. Diff Infection  
What Is C. DiffDid you know that the gut houses about 100 trillion bacteria? Of course, these microbes can affect everything from your intestinal health to your immune system if something throws your gut microbiome out of whack. While the C. difficile bacterium can be present in your gut and not even know it, other times this infection can lead to more serious gut problems.

What are the signs of a C. diff infection?

Again, it is possible to have this infection and not have symptoms; however, some people with C. diff experience:
  • Stomach cramping or pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
Of course, many intestinal diseases and infections can also cause these symptoms so it’s a good idea to see your gastroenterologist if you are dealing with watery diarrhea, vomiting, or fever that lasts more than 48 hours.

What are the risk factors for C. diff?

Certain factors can increase your risk for C. diff. While anyone can develop this infection it’s more common in those over 65 years old, those with weakened immune systems, patients with intestinal diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease), and those who work in hospital settings. If you’ve had C. diff in the past, you’re also more likely to get it again.

How is C. diff contracted?

This infection can spread from person to person or from touching contaminated surfaces or objects. This is why it’s important to properly sanitize all surfaces both at home and at work. Also, practice good hygiene and wash clothes in hot water.

How is C. diff treated?

Antibiotics are the standard way to treat a C. diff infection; however, in more severe cases (when people are experiencing complications such as organ failure) surgery may be necessary to remove parts of the colon. Since this type of infection can come back, you must talk to your gastroenterologist about ways to prevent another infection in the future.

If you are dealing with chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, or other digestive problems, you must see a gastroenterologist who can figure out what’s going on and provide you with the treatment you need to feel better quickly.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
October 19, 2020
Tags: Ulcer   Stomach Ulcer  
Stomach UlcerAre you dealing with a burning pain in your stomach that is accompanied by bloating, lack of appetite, and heartburn? If so, you could be dealing with a peptic ulcer. Peptic ulcers are sores that develop within the lining of the stomach, causing a wide range of painful and unpleasant symptoms. It may be time to see your gastroenterologist if you notice these telltale symptoms of a stomach ulcer:
  • A dull, aching, or burning sensation in the center of your stomach that may feel worse when empty and may be alleviated by eating or drinking
  • Feeling full easily
  • Lack of appetite
  • Acid reflux and heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark stools
You must see a gastroenterologist if you are dealing with any of the symptoms above. Ignoring a stomach ulcer is a bad idea, as this problem requires treatment. Leaving a stomach ulcer untreated can make the problem worse. If ulcers bleed this can have serious complications so it’s important to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible for an evaluation.

How are stomach ulcers diagnosed?

Since the problem lies within the body, we will need to be able to conduct certain tests that will help our gastroenterologists examine the stomach to find out what’s going on. To do that, your GI doctor may recommend an endoscopy.

During an endoscopy, a thin tube is inserted into the mouth through the esophagus and into the stomach to examine the lining of the stomach to look for bleeds, ulcers, and other problems within the tissue that could be causing your symptoms.

How are stomach ulcers treated?

If your endoscopy comes back positive for stomach ulcers your gastroenterologist is most likely to prescribe antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a medication that blocks the stomach from producing acid (this gives the ulcers time to heal). Some patients experience almost immediate relief, but it’s important to continue taking your medication even once you start feeling better.

Your gastroenterologist may already recommend certain dietary changes that include removing foods that could exacerbate symptoms while incorporating healthy food choices such as broccoli, leafy greens, and olive oil, that could improve stomach ulcer symptoms.

Very rarely do stomach ulcers require surgery, but your gastroenterologist may recommend surgery for stomach ulcers that keep returning, don’t heal with non-surgical treatment, bleed, or cause other complications.

Persistent stomach pain and gastrointestinal distress should be properly evaluated by a gastroenterologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating infections and conditions that affect the digestive tract. If you are concerned that you might have a stomach ulcer contact your gastroenterologist today.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
September 17, 2020
Tags: Abdominal Pain  
Abdominal PainEveryone experiences stomach upset from time to time; however, when abdominal pain sets in we know just how uncomfortable it can be. It’s important to know when you’re just dealing with normal aches and pains that will go away on their own or whether you may be dealing with an underlying issue that requires medical attention. In this case, trusting your gut could just be the best thing you do for your health.

What Causes Abdominal Pain

All you have to do is perform a quick Google search and you’ll realize that there are tons of infections, disorders, diseases and even injuries that can lead to stomach pain and discomfort. Since it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing persistent or recurring abdominal pain, this is where a gastroenterologist can help shed some light. Common causes of abdominal pain include,
  • Gastroenteritis (intestinal infection)
  • Indigestion
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Food allergies
  • Food poisoning
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hernia
  • Gallstones
  • Appendicitis (sudden, sharp pain on the right side; requires immediate medical attention)
Your GI doctor will ask you a series of questions regarding your abdominal pain and any other symptoms you are experiencing to rule out certain conditions and to determine whether further testing is needed to make a diagnosis.

Since certain conditions such as Celiac disease or colon polyps can only be properly diagnosed through specific testing (e.g. endoscopy; colonoscopy) it’s important that you seek proper medical attention if your abdominal pain lasts for days or keeps returning.

When should I see a doctor?

It’s important to recognize when abdominal pain requires immediate or professional treatment. You should seek emergency medical care if you are experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, or if your abdominal pain is accompanied by fever, vomiting, a lack of bowel movements, yellowing skin or dehydration. While not considered an emergency, you should still call our office if your stomach is tender to the touch or if you experience abdominal pain that lasts hours.

If you find yourself dealing with recurring or regular bouts of abdominal pain, a gastroenterologist can help you find answers you’re looking for.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
August 18, 2020
GallbladderChances are good that you probably never think about your gallbladder. This small organ that lies under the liver is responsible for producing and storing bile to help the liver break down high-fat foods. Of course, you may start thinking about your gallbladder if you start to notice these symptoms of a gallbladder attack:
  • Sudden, severe, and sharp abdominal pain (typically in the upper right side of the body)
  • Pain that appears after eating and lasts several hours
  • Light-colored stools
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice)
You must see a doctor right away if you are experiencing gallbladder pain or any other symptoms of an attack. That’s because there are other potentially dangerous health problems such as appendicitis or a heart attack that can also mimic the pain and other symptoms associated with a gallbladder attack, and it’s important to rule out these other conditions. Plus, if the body is unable to pass the gallstones on its own this can also lead to an infection.

Am I at risk for gallstones?

Many factors can increase your risk of developing gallstones such as:
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of gallstones and gallbladder disease
  • Being over 60 years old
  • Being a woman
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Taking estrogen or hormone medications
  • Eating a diet that is low in fiber and high in cholesterol or fat
  • Being pregnant
How is a gallbladder attack treated?

It is possible to have gallstones and never experience symptoms. In this case, you probably won’t require treatment unless there is the possibility of a complication. Sometimes medications are prescribed that can help to break up the gallstones. It may be time to consider having surgery to remove your gallbladder if:
  • You’re dealing with severe cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • There is an infection
  • The gallbladder doesn’t work or has stopped working
  • The gallbladder is causing significant pain and other problems
  • There is a tumor on the gallbladder
If you are dealing with gallstones or gallbladder pain and want to discuss ways to prevent these problems in the future, or whether you should have your gallbladder removed, talk with a gastroenterologist today to learn more. Your doctor can tell you the best way to treat your gallbladder symptoms or whether you may need to consider surgery.
By Gastroenterology Specialists, Inc.
July 17, 2020
Tags: Celiac Disease  
Celiac DiseaseNowadays, hearing the term “celiac disease” seems rather commonplace. Perhaps you even know someone who has it; however, many people assume celiac disease and gluten intolerance are the same things, but true celiac disease is much more serious. This autoimmune disorder is triggered whenever a person consumes food that contains gluten. Instead of just experiencing digestive upset (as those with gluten intolerance may), those with celiac disease incur damage to their small intestines, which in turn affects how the body absorbs nutrients.

While people can develop celiac disease at any age, it’s often hereditary (meaning that if you have a family member with this condition then you are more likely to develop the celiac disease yourself). Since this disease can lead to serious health problems such as infertility, anemia, and type 1 diabetes, it’s important to see a doctor if you suspect that you might have celiac disease.

The most common symptoms of Celiac disease involve digestive problems and may include:
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Increased gas
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Foul-smelling or pale stools (more common in children)
Along with digestive complaints, people with celiac disease (especially adults) may experience other issues that they may not even realize is caused by celiac disease. These symptoms include:
  • An itchy, widespread rash
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ulcers of the mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands and feet
Diagnosing Celiac Disease
If you believe you might have celiac disease you must see a gastroenterologist right away; however, you don’t want to change up your diet before seeing a doctor, as avoiding gluten could affect your test results. Two blood tests are most often used to check your body’s immune response to gluten. If there is an indication that you could have celiac disease based on your blood test results, then your doctor may recommend an endoscopy to check the lining of the small intestines for damage.

Treating Celiac Disease
The only way to truly manage celiac disease is to stick to a gluten-free diet. This means staying vigilant when reading labels, as gluten isn’t just found in food but also medications and non-food items such as lipsticks, nutritional supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and toothpaste. If you are dealing with anemia or other nutritional deficiencies as a result of celiac your doctor may also prescribe certain medications such as iron, vitamin B12, or vitamin D.